Location: Wilmette, Ill.
Course architect: Joseph Roseman
Renovated: 2014 [Greg Martin Design]
Tee — Yardage | Rating / Slope:
Black — 6,363 | 70.8 / 128
Gold — 6,032 | 69.2 / 124
Orange — 5,686 | 67.7 / 120
Orange — 5,686 | 73.1 / 131
Green — 4,899 | 68.6 / 121
White — 4,668 | 67.5 / 118
Saturday morning green fee: $$ [$50-$99]
Caddie service: No
Walker friendly: Yes
Fairways: Kentucky bluegrass
Starter: The Chicago suburbs feature a full flight of munis that would make attractive private clubs in many parts of the nation. A 2014 renovation by Greg Martin puts Wilmette Golf Club, owned by the Village of Wilmette, among Chicago’s top suburban munis. The multi-tiered greens are first-rate. And Martin’s redo has made some of the holes — notably Nos. 3, 11, 13 and 17 — exceptionally challenging. A leafy and pleasant layout that was Northwestern University’s course for more than two decades until the village bought it in 1972, Wilmette has a nice mix of long and short par 4s that let everyone play.
Play because ...: It’s a nice Midwestern classic, a scenic parkland layout that will test a golfer's skill, but will also reward those who play well. Don’t be fooled by the low yardage. It’s a par 70 that plays longer than expected. And even if you gobble up the short holes, there are still six or seven par 4s that require length and accuracy. Also, the course’s location is a plus. Wilmette is relatively close to downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport.
Takeaway: Wilmette offers a nice all-around golf experience. The clubhouse has a vintage comfort to it, but was rebuilt from the ground up after a 2005 fire. The inviting grill, which has a nice 19th-hole terrace, attracts golfers and non-golfers alike. But don’t overlook Meier’s, a tavern that’s virtually across the street. Seemingly untouched since the repeal of Prohibition, Meier’s features a legendary patty melt and big mugs of Dab.
THE RATINGS [1 to 10 scale; 10 being the highest]
Food | Beverage: 8.5
Pro shop: 8.5
Pace of play: 8.0
THE COURSE | Scorecard
Best par 3: No. 12 [148 | 131 | 123 | 101 | 80 yards]
Martin’s 2014 redo changed this hole radically — from a long shot into a small, flat green — yawn — to a shorter shot into a multi-tiered green — yikes. With a water hazard in front and left, and three deep bunkers in the vicinity, missing the green is not an option. Landing on the wrong tier of the green is a recipe for a three-putt. In other words, it’s a fun hole if you hit a good tee shot. If you don’t, roll up your sleeves.
Best par 4: No. 11 [428 | 402 | 376 | 305 | 305 yards]
For many golfers, the 11th is a par 5 masquerading as a par 4. To hit the green in two requires a muscular and relatively straight tee shot. A hazard and trees guard the left. On the right, there is out of bounds and a bunker that could ruin a really good drive. Even after a good drive, there’s a lot of work to do. The approach must carry a pond and land on the proper tier of a green that will seem to lack only a windmill and a clown’s mouth for poorly positioned balls. Many players will lay up and hit wedge. A bogey here is not a bad thing.
Best par 5: No. 17 [512 | 504 | 491 | 431 | 423 yards]
With only two par 5s — and the usual four par 3s — on this par-70 layout, there are only two choices. The par-5 sixth is all about the tee shot; if it’s in the right place, the rest of the hole is pretty straightforward. No. 17 is all about the shot into the green. Even good shots into the 17th green can go awry. For one thing, the back-left pin tends to be a sucker pin. And center or right shots tend to roll off the back of this sloping green.